VIR: SAMAX Motorsport qualifying report

SAMAX - Virginia qualifying podium SAMAX Motorsport scored a podium finish in the GT qualifying race for Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series race at Virginia International Raceway. Heavy rain during the 30-minute race -- the first qualifying race...

SAMAX - Virginia qualifying podium

SAMAX Motorsport scored a podium finish in the GT qualifying race for Sunday's Rolex Sports Car Series race at Virginia International Raceway. Heavy rain during the 30-minute race -- the first qualifying race in series history -- left drivers struggling for visibility.

Rob Bell started the No. 17 SAMAX Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car fourth on the 20-car grid. He moved to third after seven minutes and held the position to the checkered flag. As a result, his co-driver Ian James will start Sunday's race from third on the GT grid. Greg Wilkins will start the No. 71 SAMAX/ Doncaster Racing Porsche 14th, based on his co-driver's finish: Dave Lacey started the qualifying race ninth and finished 14th.

Rob Bell: "I just couldn't see anything -- the rear window was misted up, the front window was misted up, I couldn't see out of the side mirrors, I couldn't see lights or where the track was. I caught the leaders up, but as the race went on, I think our tires might have been a bit hot or we lost a little bit of the rear-end grip, which meant I couldn't quite keep with the leaders. But at that stage I was just thinking, 'I hope this is the last lap, I hope this is the last lap!' Third place today is a good finish."

Dave Lacey: "The car was handling very, very well. Unfortunately, after the reconnaissance lap, I turned the motor off to wait for the start, turned it back on and it started to fog up. With the mist of the cars in front of me, it just got worse and worse and worse. When it wasn't raining, the windshield started to clear up and we were able to run reasonable lap times. But when it rained again or when I got close to somebody in front of me, the visibility went off. I went off twice trying to pass people and just couldn't make it work. I just tried to keep the car in one piece for the race tomorrow."

rain gear

The SAMAX/Doncaster and SAMAX Porsches were fitted with glass windshields for the Virginia qualifying race, providing a smooth surface for the car's wipers. The crews also used liberal amounts of anti-fog solution to improve visibility. Doncaster Racing principal John Lacey explained the windshield change:

"Normally, we run with a Lexan plastic windshield, but in the rain we go back to a glass one. The reason we don't usually use glass is because it's heavier and it cracks with stones and stuff, so it's expensive. The glass gives a better wipe, given that you're in heavy spray, and it defogs better on the inside than plastic does."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Rob Bell , Dave Lacey , Greg Wilkins